Snow Goer magazine was launched as the first national snowmobile magazine 50 years ago. To celebrate, Snow Goer is taking readers on a volume-by-volume walk through the history of snowmobiling, as captured on the magazine’s pages. Below is the review of the 1969-70 publishing season. Other years will be also be published — use SG@50 in the search bar on the website to find them. Here’s a link to the opening section plus links to the 1966-67 section, the 1967-68 section, the 1968-69 section, the 1969-70 section and the 1970-71 section.
The season’s first issue featured photos and write-ups on sleds from 19 different brands that showed up at the magazine’s second-annual spring photo shoot.
Several brands switched engine vendors that year, or used multiple engine vendors to give their buyers choices. The ’72 Alouette Eliminator was described as “jazzy,” the Chaparral Firebird SS 440 as “a hefty lightweight” and the Grand Prix GPS Mark II as being “equipped with everything but a gyroscope.” One notable entry to the market was Harley-Davidson with its inaugural snowmobile – simply called Model Y.
“It took awhile for Harley-Davidson to get all of their cycle smarts together and apply it to snowmobiles,” editors wrote, “but after you ride the new Model Y, you’ll understand why. They wanted to bring out a better machine, and succeeded!” This first Harley came with shock absorbers on the skis – a rarity at the time – as well as a Harley-exclusive engine and transmission.
Also showcased in the season’s first issue were Sno-Jet’s significantly upgraded SST 433, Ski-Daddler’s new Mark IV 400 and the wrap-yourself-in-patriotism Rupp American.
The vast expansion of the snowmobile market was on display in the Buyer’s Guide issue, with its “color-keyed spec chart to make you an expert on 424 brand new machines.”
Those 424 models were from 64 different brands based in 16 states and 3 Canadian provinces, including 15 brands from Quebec (Auto Ski, Autotechnic/Ski-Zoom, Boa Ski, Bombardier/Ski-Doo, Dauphin, Featherweight/Alouette, Moto-Loo, Lionel Enterprises/Sno-Prince, Moto Kometic, Moto-Ski, Northway, Playcat, Trans Ski, Valcartier/Passe Par Tout and Wee Ski), 11 from Minnesota (Arctic Cat, Farmington Engineering/Sno-Pac, Herter’s, Innovar/Sno Coupe, Leisure Design, Polaris, Scorpion, Sno-Pony, Thor Industies/Thunderbolt, TT Industries and Viking Snowmobiles), nine from Wisconsin (Ariens, Bolens, Evinrude, Feldman, Fox Trax, Gilson, Harley-Davidson, Kiekhaefer/Mercury and Jet-Trac), five from Illinois ( John Deere, Glastex, Johnson, Montgomery Ward and Sears Robuck), three each from Ohio (Alsport, MTD and Rupp) and New York (ISOcars, JC Penney and Poloron), two each from California (U.S. Suzuki and Yamaha), Ontario (Eagle Machine/Sno-Hawk and Original Equipment Manufacturing), Iowa (American Machine and Massey-Ferguson/Ski-Whiz), Maine (Caribou and Melvin Manufacturing), Michigan (Leisure Vehicle/Raider and Yardman), one each from Colorado (Chaparral), Connecticut (Lori Engineers/Little Skipper), Indiana (Wheel Horse), Kansas (Coleman/Skiroule), Texas (Sno-Jet), Saskatchewan (Roll-O-Flex), North Dakota (Ride Runner) and Nebraska (Hellstar Corp./Jetstar). The specs (and home states) are the best the Snow Goer team could come up with – many other brands existed.
The 1971-72 season of Snow Goer had several odd magazine covers – lifestyle shots with girls and snowmobiles, a comic featuring a gun-toting Dick Tracy on a cartoon snowmobile and an unhelmeted Sno-Jet rider getting far too close to a herd of Yaks. Most curious was the January cover, featuring four Mercury snowmobiles parked in the middle of a circus setup, complete with clowns.
Sales dipped a bit in the 1971-72 season, to a still-amazing 458,000 units in North America.